Last year, these two programs were separated by two classes, with Northrop up in Class 6A and Bishop Dwenger in 4A.
But the combination of Northrop’s drop and Bishop Dwenger’s bump due to Success Factor, these two SAC programs collide in a battle for a sectional championship.
What should we expect at Shields Field? What are the storylines? Who are the players to watch? Outside the Huddle breaks it all down.
These two teams met in Week 9, with Bishop Dwenger edging Northrop 9-7 at Spuller Stadium.
The Saints did rest of its front line players who were battling nagging injuries, but the majority of the team was on the field and in a battle deep into the game with the pesky Bruins.
Three weeks removed from that game, can Northrop once again be a pest to the mighty Saints? Will Bishop Dwenger mix up its offense in an attempt to find some success against a unit that had issues stopping teams for most of the season?
Much to learn come Friday.
2. A LONG TIME COMING
Northrop’s win over Goshen last week wasn’t just a sectional victory for the Bruins, it ended a decade and a half of postseason futility, with the last playoff win coming in 2004.
Now, the Bruins are facing off in a sectional championship game for the first time since 1999. Suffice it to say that none of Northrop’s current players were alive the last time the Bruins were on this kind of stage.
3. BUSINESS AS USUAL
Many are still envisioning a Bishop Dwenger v. New Palestine Class 5A championship game, but both need to do some work before making that showdown a reality.
For the Saints, not only do they have to take care of a pesky Northrop squad, they will likely have to get past a Valparaiso team in semistate which is undefeated.
But first things first. The Saints have won two straight sectional crowns and three in the last four years. This is a new experience for Northrop. It is not so for Dwenger.
FOUR PLAYERS TO WATCH
QB BRENDEN LYTLE, JUNIOR, BISHOP DWENGER
Lytle has not thrown for more than 103 yards in a game since early October. Defenses have done a good job in mixing up looks and coverages to make it difficult for Lytle and the passing attack.
But Lytle came up big in the state championship run last year and has the capability and experience to do iA IK9898t again. To avoid a potential upset, some big throws from Lytle on Friday will go a long way.
QB DYLAN HOOT, SENIOR, NORTHROP
In close wins over Concordia and Bishop Luers early this season, Hoot threw for a combined 319 yards and four touchdowns. He did not throw a touchdown in any of the other regular-season games he appeared it.
The Bruins need the good version of Hoot on Friday against the Saints. Expect Bishop Dwenger to bottle up the run game for the most part, meaning Hoot will need to strike vertically.
CB HOWIE STEELE, SENIOR, BISHOP DWENGER
If Northrop is forced to attack through the air, Steele may find himself having to defend some of the Bruins’ top receivers, including Qualen Pettus.
Steele has sneaky quickness and acceleration to be able to stay with speedy wide receivers downfield. He also can read plays as well as anyone on the Saints’ defense. He has a team-high three INTs and could add to that total in coverage on Friday.
LB ANTOINE SCOTT, SENIOR, NORTHROP
Scott can do a little bit of everything, from bottling up a run to blowing up a play in the backfield to picking off a pass. The Bruins will need all of that on Friday to try and knock off the sectional favorite Saints.
Slowing down the run game of Bishop Dwenger will be a big key for the Bruins. They did it in Week 9, but how much was that because the Saints had some key starters out? Nevertheless, Scott will need to have a big game.
KEYS TO VICTORY – NORTHROP
1. BOTTLE UP THE TIPPMANNS
Brothers Devon and Louie Tippmann have combined for nearly 1,000 yards rushing and 14 touchdowns this year for the Saints. One or the other seems to lead the way for Bishop Dwenger every week offensively.
Northrop cannot let either of them do that. The Bruins must wrap up and tackle. They must not allow Bishop Dwenger to turn the corner. And they cannot allow the Saints’ offensive line to win the point of attack.
2. SEIZE OPPORTUNITIES
Bishop Dwenger is experienced and disciplined, but it isn’t perfect. There are going to be a few instances in which the Saints make a mistake and put Northrop in a position to get a big play or a key turnover that could swing the game. The Bruins cannot afford to whiff on those opportunities.
There may be a half-dozen of these types of plays or just one or two. But no matter how many there are, the Bruins have to make Dwenger pay when it screws up.
KEYS TO VICTORY – BISHOP DWENGER
1. DON’T OVERTHINK IT
This shouldn’t be a problem. There may be no program in the area that “sticks to the script” as much as Bishop Dwenger in terms of how they approach the game strategically.
The Saints are going to do nothing flashy, or at least not much. They are going to do what they do and do it better than the opponent.
The game plan is simple. Play Bishop Dwenger football and the outcome will take care of itself.
If the Saints have to go pass heavy for whatever reason, that’s out of their comfort zone. Runs and short passes are the name of the game.
2. MAKE NORTHROP PASS
Damarius Cowen and Jeremiah Green have accounted for 11 of Northrop’s 14 rushing touchdowns on the year. They are truly the duo that make the Bruins’ offense tick. Without a consistent running game, Northrop’s offense bogs down and has trouble moving the chains.
As difficult as it will be to move the ball on Bishop Dwenger, it will become even more so if Northrop is made to be a one-dimensional team. Much like the Saints, the Bruins aren’t comfortable putting the ball up 25-plus times a game.